Gregg Easterbrook of the New Republic writes:
MOSCOW LOST THE COLD WAR, BUT DREAMS OF WINNING THE GLOBAL WARMING WAR: Why won’t Russia ratify the Kyoto Treaty? It would seem very much in Moscow’s interest to do so.
The United States has dropped out of Kyoto negotiations, but most other Western nations remain in. Russia now holds the swing vote on whether Kyoto goes into effect for most Western nations except the United States. If Kyoto actually did take effect, requiring most Western nations to make dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases, Europe would inevitably end up involved in “carbon trading” with Moscow. The European Union would invest in modernization of Russian industry, in order to reduce Russian greenhouse-gas emissions; then Europe would buy the reduction credits so created. The European Union also would reduce its use of greenhouse-offender coal, substituting lower-carbon natural gas from Russia. Thus it seems Moscow and its industries would come out a winner under a Kyoto regime. Yet the Duma has been resisting ratification of Kyoto for two years, and yesterday, Vladimir Putin said he is also opposed.
Possible reason for Russian resistance–Moscow wants global warming! Much of the world might suffer, but the freezing former Soviet states might be better off. The agricultural region of Russia might expand significantly, while Siberia became reasonably habitable. If Siberia and other ice regions became reasonably habitable, global warming would effectively be expanding Russian territory by climate change, not war. And what government doesn’t want more territory?
Sidelight: Why does Germany favor the Kyoto Treaty? Not so much for greenhouse reasons but so that Berlin can shut down the country’s subsidized, politically powerful coal-mining industry. German leaders have wanted for decades to cut subsidies for coal production–even the presumably pro-labor current government wants this–because coal mined in Germany costs more than twice the world price, mainly owing to featherbedded work rules. Every move to reign in the German coal industry has been greeted by public howls. But if Berlin could blame a coal shut-down on an international obligation, and polls show the Kyoto accord is very popular among Germans, the equation would change.
The sidelight is even odder and even more interesting. Hmm.